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Sun Vs. Microsoft Essay, Research Paper

Sun Microsystems, Inc.


By 1998 Sun had become a global Fortune 500 leader in enterprise network computing with operations in 150 countries and generating $8 billion in revenues. Sun?s competitors in the technical markets were primarily Intel, Hewlett-Packard (HP), International Business Machine (IBM), Compaq Computer Corporation (CPQ) and Silicon Graphics, Inc. (SGI).

The information technology industry, the market for Sun?s services and products, was extremely competitive in 1998. The industry is characterized by rapid, continuous change, frequent performance improvements, short product life cycles, and price reductions. The good reputation of Sun Microsystems will continue to serve the company well. Sun was the leading provider of UNIX-based servers. Java helped increase sales.

Products & Services

Sun Microsystems is a company that is at the top of their game. Offering products with unmatchable capabilities, Sun has concentrated on the mission that its CEO, Scott McNealy has upheld since the beginning, ?The Network is the Computer.? Since its founding in 1982 and the beginning of McNealy?s tenure as president in 1984, Sun has continued to grow as its products give the customer abilities that no one else offers. The vision that Scott McNealy has adopted has been the focus of the company for years. Sun aims to make all computers compatible with each other over a network. Computers, when manufactured by different companies, can run on several different operating systems yet be able to work together. The Sun products described below attempt to accomplish the mission that Sun has set to facilitate communication on a global level.

Enterprise Servers

Sun Enterprise servers deliver unmatched scalability so the customer can concentrate on expanding his/her business without worrying about how his/her information systems will keep up. From the workgroup to the data center, Sun Enterprise servers give their customers all the power they need to dot-com their business and gain competitive advantage.

Network Storage

Sun is redefining storage for the dot-com age. Today’s enterprise requires the right balance of compute, network, software, and storage capability to achieve maximum performance. Sun’s Intelligent Storage Network architecture offers that balance. And it provides information sharing, protection, and management across a variety of platforms. Furthermore, Sun provides outstanding scalability, investment protection, and a building-block approach for incremental growth.

Desktop Systems

With supercharged processors, high-bandwidth networking, accelerated graphics, and outstanding application performance, the Sun Ultra series brings supercomputing power to the desktop. Sun offers PC compatibility. Java Station network computers require no desktop administration, making them ideal for companies looking to reduce total cost of ownership.

Java Technology

The most talked about technology of the dot-com era has also become the most widely used. Developed by Sun, Java technology addresses many of today’s most pressing problems: complexity, incompatibility and security, and has proved invaluable in cutting costs and opening new dot-com business opportunities. Sun Microsystems offers the ?Road to Java? program, with more than 75 authorized Java Center service locations worldwide, can guide the user from evaluation to pilot programs to enterprise-wide implementation.

Solaris Software

Sun delivers the perfect platform for network computing: Solaris software. It starts with a 64-bit operating environment and extends to server products that provide mainframe-class reliability, complete PC interoperability, and comprehensive Internet services. Solaris software gives the ability to support multiple-terabyte data warehouses and thousands of users. Sun provides comprehensive enterprise management tools, industrial-strength security solutions, and e-mail that works on a global scale. This combination of qualities provides a solid foundation needed for continuous connectivity. Such a foundation is necessary in the dot-com world, where downtime can cost a company thousands, or even millions, of dollars.

Forte Development Tools

Sun offers a complete, end-to-end solution for quickly developing high quality, entry-level to enterprise-class applications for the Solaris Operating Environment, Linux, UNIX, and Microsoft Windows environments. It also includes a new, robust, Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that supports many languages to make you more productive than ever.

Professional Services

Sun offers an integrated portfolio of services to help plan, design, implement, and manage innovative dot-com solutions. Their consulting and integration experts work closely with the customer to align their information systems with their business goals.

Support Services

With the world’s largest UNIX service organization, supporting more than one million systems, Sun delivers ?mission-critical? support at all times. Additionally, Sun VIP program resolves complex problems and eliminates finger pointing through cooperative agreements with leading software vendors.

Educational Services

To increase the efficiency of the customers? staffs, Sun provides design, training, consultation, and management services tailored to their current skill levels. They offer courses for individuals and groups, at the customer?s place of business or in classrooms in more than 85 countries around the world.

Consumer and Embedded Devices

With their platform-independent Java technologies, Sun is extending the net all the way to consumer devices “dot-comming” everything from smart cards to wireless phones to touch-screen kiosks. To build this new generation of network-ready information appliances, manufacturers are turning to Sun for fast, low-cost Java processors, the lightweight Java OS operating system, and other enabling technologies so the customer can access the information he/she needs, anytime, anywhere using just about anything.


Sun?s UltraSPARC microprocessors accelerate multimedia and networking applications with their innovative architecture and VIS instruction set. They can be thought of as the high-performance engine behind the net, powering networked systems from routers to supercomputers. Java processors, with their high performance, small memory footprint, low power consumption, and low cost, enable revolutionary thin-client products from network computers to Web phones.

Telco Servers

In an era of convergence between telecommunications and Internet services, Sun provides solutions that can give the customer a competitive edge. The Telco product line ranges from stable platforms for network services to infrastructure components. Sun?s Netra products deliver complete, commercially available solutions from single-processor servers to fault-tolerant multiprocessing systems. They are constantly developing a full range of products to meet stringent Telco requirements for connectivity and storage plus innovative Java solutions that enable telecommunications companies and Internet service providers to deploy new breakaway businesses.


Java, the programming language developed by Sun Microsystems, is known around the world. Many have heard of Java, yet few know what it is, or what it can do. It certainly has become a part of our everyday lives, existing in our mobile phones, televisions, and Internet browsers. Designed in 1990 as an embedded language for consumer electronics, it was later discovered to be an ideal interface to the Internet. In 1996, Netscape added Java support to its popular Navigator Web browser. The technology is still evolving, and today, most Java applets are simple animations, or user interactions. The future is brighter, promising full-blown applications over the Internet; imagine using Microsoft Office from your television.

A Java applet begins its life by being called by a Web page; the applet is embedded in the Web page. The Web browser then downloads the applet and runs it on your machine. The concept of being able to run applications on your system has been a major innovation from Sun Microsystems. The ability to run applications on your system has another significant advantage. When you view something that runs on a Web page, or is interactive, the work takes place on the remote computer and not yours. Java frees Internet resources, allowing the work to take place on the client’s system rather than the server’s.

If all applications were running on remote computers, the servers would be clogged up with traffic, and these would bring the entire Internet to a halt Java has been thrust into the spotlight with its language built on the principles of security and platform independence. Sun Microsystems has promised a “Write once, run anywhere” language created for an Internet

community comprised of different computer, hardware, and software configurations. The power to write programs that run on most everyone’s computer is revolutionary. For Internet applications, though, the value of platform independence degrades exponentially without strict, built-in security. Java provides this security, and has the power to change the way we compute.

Current Mission

The current mission focuses on their experience, understanding, innovation, cooperation, and commitment to their customers and products. With more than 17 years of experience on the forefront of network computing, Sun?s innovative leadership extends from the onset of the Internet to creating the world-renowned Java technology. They understand the fundamental needs of businesses to minimize complexity, processes, and expenses while maximizing productivity. Thus, they have created products that appeal to all industries, from education to retail. Their innovation offers workstations, servers, and high-speeds that redefine high availability. Sun recognizes their inability to ?be all things to all people.? So they built solid relationships with companies capable of providing the best products in their field. This cooperation brought together the best solutions available for customers. Their commitment is to provide not just innovative products but impeccable service and support. They are available 24 hours, 7 days a week to assist with technical questions via e-mail and/or toll-free calls.

Current Objectives

Sun Microsystems had a vision of creating an environment in which computers talked to each other no matter who built them. They used this vision to develop a mission statement that focused on experience, understanding, innovation, cooperation, and commitment. However, there is no single way to create an environment in which computers communicate with one another regardless of who built them. This would be more of a testing ground of on-going trial and error processes. Thus, Sun is not looking for linear growth. Linear growth could easily be defined quantitatively in how you move from point A to point B. Instead, they have created an entirely new industry and grown exponentially. This is largely due to their broad diversity of products. Since they recognize their uniqueness among most companies, Sun has not found the need to have any quantitative objectives. The closest they come to defined objectives is when Ed Zander, the President and Chief Operating Officer, says that they want to be the number one provider of technologies, products, and services that drive the Net economy. Fortunately, they have been extremely successful in doing this. They decided to capitalize on everyone’s need to communicate effectively and efficiently and have captured a diverse, yet somewhat undefined market. Unlike most companies, it would probably hurt Sun Microsystems to have measurable objectives because of the limitations they would then be subjected to.

In Hamel and Prahalad?s, Competing for the Future, there are definitive points that can help any company succeed. They must be open to changes in the market environment, utilize research and development to create future products, and be proactive instead of reactive to the environment. Sun Microsystems has fully maximized these attributes. As seen in their objectives, their definitions are broad enough to encompass may things, yet narrow enough to keep them focused on their business. This is important because they become extremely adaptable to the environment. Sun knows the value of research and development. Last year, they increased their research and development spending by 27% over the previous year. Lastly, they must be proactive, and accurately anticipate their customer needs and future technological trends in the industry. While they still must be reactive to environmental developments, they need to be the leader in cutting edge innovation. Sun knows it must compete effectively with current and potential competitors. Otherwise, it stands to lose revenue, profits, and market share.

Current Strategies

Sun Microsystems? strategy is consistent with their mission, as it always has been. They continue to strive to make the network available to every man, woman, and child. Sun sees its role as one of making most of opportunity, by delivering open, affordable, and useful products to help as many people as possible share in the power of the network around the world. Their current strategies assure that they can continue to adapt to the ever-changing commercial and social environment while still keeping efficiency and productivity high to minimize cost.

Sun?s competition offers several threats and opportunities. Sun has had to maintain a philosophy of continuous innovation in order to keep up with the market?s demands and the progresses of competitive enterprises. Sun invests heavily in Research and Development for this reason. Furthermore, in trying to progress at a faster pace than the competition, Sun has worked to create advance payments to its suppliers in order to assure expeditious service from their suppliers.

Sun is not a friend to dependence. In order to ensure that outside influences will not be devastating, Sun has ensured the diversification of its sales. As a result of this diversification, no customer of Sun?s accounts for more than 10% of their revenues. Because of these strategies, Sun has been able to obtain 26% of the market share in the United States.

Current Policies

Sun Microsystems main philosophy is to give their customers the ability to develop breakaway business strategies through the use of their products. Sun Microsystems offers their customers network computing products, solutions, and services. The company also realizes that information and its accessibility is key for any business to succeed in this day and age. Sun Microsystems is providing their customers with the technology, innovation, and partnerships needed to access information from anywhere and by any means, from any device they may use. Sun Microsystems policies and goals are based upon the existence of the network. They believe that the network is the foundation for customers to build their businesses through the use of Sun Microsystems products.

Its ?vision is for a networked computing future driven by the needs and choices of the customer. It is a vision in which every man, woman, and child has access to the collective planetary wisdom that resides on the network.? Sun Microsystems further realizes that the Internet is the gateway through which their vision and ideas would come to fruition. They see their mission as making the most out of the power of the Internet by their customers through the use of their products and services.

Board of Directors

The board of directors currently has eight members.

Scott G. McNealy

Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer, Sun Microsystems, Inc.

Mr. McNealy is a Founder of Sun and has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer since April 1999. He was Chairman of the Board of Directors, President and Chief Executive Officer from December 1984 until April 1999, as President and Chief Operating Officer from February 1984 until December 1984 and as Vice President of Operations from February 1982 until February 1984. Mr. McNealy has served as a Director of the Company since the incorporation of the Company in February 1982. He is also a Director of General Electric Company.

James L. Barksdale

Managing Partner, The Barksdale Group since April 1999.

He was President and Chief Executive Officer of Netscape Communications Corporation from January 1995 until March 1999, when America Online, Inc acquired Netscape. From January 1992 to January 1995, Mr. Barksdale served as President and Chief Operating Officer of AT&T Wireless Services (formerly McCaw Cellular Communications, Inc.). Mr. Barksdale is also a Director of America Online, Inc., Federal Express Corporation, Liberate Technologies, Palm, Inc., The Robert Mondavi Corporation and Webvan Group, Inc.

L. John Doerr

General Partner/Managing Director, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

Mr. Doerr is also a Director of Amazon.com, Inc, Drugstore.com, Inc., FreeMarkets, Inc., Handspring, Inc., Healtheon/Web MD Corporation, HomeStore.com, Inc., Intuit, Inc. and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

Judith L. Estrin

Chief Executive Officer, Packet Design, Inc. since April 2000.

From April 1998 to April 2000, she served as Chief Technology Officer, Senior Vice President, and Cisco Systems, Inc. She served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Precept Software, Inc. from March 1995 to April 1998. Robert J. Fisher

Member, Board of Directors, The Gap, Inc. since November 1999.

From April 1997 to November 1999 he served as Executive Vice President, The Gap, Inc. and President, Gap Division. From November 1995 to April 1997, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of The Gap, Inc. From July 1993 to November 1995, he served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Gap, Inc. Robert L. Long

Independent Management Consultant

M. Kenneth Oshman

Chairman of the Board of Directors, President, and Chief Executive Officer, Echelon Corporation

Naomi O. Seligman

Senior Partner, Ostriker Von Simson, Inc.

Ms. Seligman is also a Director of Dun & Bradstreet, Exodus Communications, Inc., Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Ventro Corporation.

Top Management

The top management at Sun Microsystems serve as a crucial strength in the success, fortitude, and innovation of the company. Focus is a common term that falls from all of their lips. When asked what has driven their success in a short seventeen years, the following responses were given:

Scott McNealy, Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer:

?Some companies change direction more often than I change the oil in my car. Sun?s focus is right where it?s always been: the Net.?

Ed Zander, President & Chief Operations Officer:

?Our focus is simple: Be the number one provider of technologies, products and services that drive the Net economy.?

Bill Joy, Cofounder & Chief Scientist:

??it?s always been about the network?that?s our focus.?

Greg Papadopoulos, Senior Vice President & Chief Technology Officer:

?All of our R&D?is dedicated to bringing the power of the Net to anyone, anywhere, anytime, on anything.?

Sun has a very strong focus on bringing the Net to the people of the world. Fluid as their objectives may seem, their focus has always been on the Net. The aforementioned managerial quotes testify to the uniformity of this focus down through the ranks of Sun. When questioned on Sun?s secret to success, hockey enthusiast Scott McNealy replied, ?The key to our success? Focus. As Wayne Gretsky used to say, ?Do not skate to the puck; skate to where it is going??. It is very important and exhilarating that a management team can concur and spread the fundamental truth of a company so large and successful to their employees. Everybody from the CEO to the intern pee-on must know what Sun stands for. And they do.

Another attribute of Sun?s management team is that they are very open-minded to the changes of the technological and social environments of the world. As they are very concerned with the latest technologies, they are also sensitive to what current and potential customers want now and in the future. But, never is the sight taken from the focus: to provide every man, woman, and child with access to the Net anywhere?. In analogy, Sun is to Focus as a fish is to food. Not that Sun should be compared to the (lack of) ingenuity of the fish, but rather the tenacity a fish possesses to spontaneously dart off in a new, more advantageous direction.

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